Sunday, August 23, 2009


If you've ever stood behind her in line, you know what I mean. The audible sighs, the shifting your weight with the amount of time spent waiting. The peeking around, hoping that there is another option. If you've ever worked in retail, you also will know what I mean. You can see her coming a mile away, and you cross your fingers that she picks another register. Who is she you might ask? The coupon lady.

The shopper that methodically makes a list, checking the ad for specials and trying to rack up as many deals as possible. After perusing the aisles in a strategic manner, she approaches the checkout with the cart piled high, fists clutching her tiny pieces of paper as though they were gold. It takes almost as long to enter the coupons as it does to run the items through the scanner.

I used to hate the coupon lady. And then something happened. I became the coupon lady. Motherhood does some crazy things to a person. I've never been one to spend money in a lavish fashion. I've tried for most of my life to be sensible about it, at least as much as is practical. For years I avoided using coupons, rationalizing that it just wasn't worth the amount of time and effort to save such a small amount of money. And besides, I hated getting stuck behind people who used them whenever I was at the store. I bought stuff on sale, bought certain things in bulk when cheaper, but I avoided coupons like the plague.

I'm not sure when it really started, but I have it down to a science now. I wait until something goes on sale, then use as many coupons as I can. I stack store coupons with manufacturer ones, and there are times that I literally pay just pennies for items. There are still very real limits to the practicality of the coupons though. I don't even attempt to coupon shop when the kids are with me. I try to do one big shopping trip a month and use as many of them as I can. Then I make smaller weekly trips for the perishable stuff, almost always lugging most or all of my children with me. Those trips are designed for speed and efficiency. Get in and get out. No time for coupons. Trust me when I say that no one wants me to coupon shop with my children. Not me, not them, and certainly not the poor people at the grocery store.

After making my list this morning, I started sorting the coupons. Tom looked at me like I was crazy and asked me what I was doing. I put them in order of when I will see the item in the store. There really is a method to it. When you intend to use over 50 coupons at a time, there has to be some sense of organization. I got to the store, alone, and set off. Tom called me twice while I was there, wanting to know if I was done yet. Nope. It takes that long.

I had my cart piled so high that I had to be careful going around corners, and total strangers stopped to ask me how many kids I have. Usually rude comments like that are reserved for the times when I have all the kids with me. But, when I do my monthly trip, people tend to start asking questions. All that food certainly cannot be for just one average sized family, right?

The girl behind the register did not even attempt to mask her displeasure with me. Sorry, but it's your job. Spare me the comments and snide remarks and just scan the stuff. Yes, I do have all the items for that coupon. Yes, I do really remember how much that buy one get one free item cost. And yes, I do need another cart to get all the stuff to the car.

My apologies to those people unfortunate enough to be stuck behind me in line on coupon days. My apologies to the checkers who have to process my huge orders. My apologies to whoever the person is that eventually has to sort through all those little pieces of paper.

It's a lot of work. It's not for the impatient shopper. But it is worth it. I saved $75 today. And I am no longer ashamed to say it. I am the coupon lady.


  1. Teach me Teach me Obie Won. I want to be your coupon apprentice. For some reason I never find the coupons for the stuff we buy.

  2. Cut any coupon you might potentially use. Wait for stuff to go on sale. Combine. Joy. :)


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